Spencer's gift: an ability to coach backs

In a sense, one former Bears player helped provide them with new running backs coach Tim Spencer. <p> Spencer, the former Chicago Blitz and San Diego Chargers running back, had just ended his pro playing career in 1993 and was considering what he'd do the rest of his life. He still had football in his blood and thought about coaching, but wasn't sure how to get started.</p>

"I called Fred Pagac, who was at Georgia at the time," Spencer recalled.

Pagac played tight end for the Bears during the 1974 season and also played for the first Tampa Bay team that went winless in 1976. He had been an assistant coach for Ohio State when Spencer played there from 1979-82.

"Fred was kind of a guy that I related to and told me to talk to (former Ohio State coach John) Cooper if I wanted to get into coaching. So Fred more or less was the guy who got me started, steered me the right way and got me started," said Spencer.

It led to 10 years of coaching for the Buckeyes before coming to the Bears to join new head coach Lovie Smith, who was a Buckeyes assistant in 1995.

Spencer never perceived himself the coaching type while he played for Ohio State under Woody Hayes, or when he played for George Allen and the Chicago Blitz in the USFL or Don Coryell with the San Diego Chargers.

"It's funny. I can remember being a player and seeing all the hours assistant coaches put in and I said I would never do it," Spencer laughed. "Everybody says that."

Spencer, who gained 3,553 at Ohio State, called Allen a big influence on his career even if he was with the former NFL coaching legend and one-time Bears assistant for only a short period.

"When I was with George Allen, he was an influential person for me in terms of how you treat players, and with respect," Spencer said. "To me, he was my best influence along with coach Cooper and coach (Don) Coryell. Those three guys right there were first class.

"I've found that most guys just want to be coached. They don't want to be brow-beaten. Hollering and screaming … there's a time and place to use voice inflection but it's not something you over-emphasize."

Spencer points out his background includes opposite ends of the offensive coaching spectrum. Air Coryell's Chargers let up the scoreboard. At Ohio State under coach Jim Tressel the last few years, it was the opposite style.

"I won't say we were 3 yards and a cloud of dust, but maybe it was 4 yards and a cloud of dust," Spencer said. "Actually, we liked the fact people thought we were conservative as coaches because people thought all we did was run. I know people would look at us that way, but if you look at all the receivers who have come out of Ohio State to the NFL the last 10 years then you know that's over-exaggerated."

Spencer was at the middle of controversy during the February NFL scouting combine because he had been Maurice Clarett's running backs coach at Ohio State University. Media flocked around him in Indianapolis to find out about Clarett's abilities after the former Buckeyes back had refused to work out for scouts at the combine.

"People might not believe it after this past year, but Maurice was one of the best players I had the chance to coach," Spencer said. "Eddie George was, without a doubt, the best. He worked his tail off. He was a pleasure to coach and conscientious -- a smart football player and you couldn't overwork him. You just could not overwork him.

"Maurice, from the standpoint of work ethic and coaching the kid on the field, there were few and far between that hustled the way he did and had the talent and knowledge of the game he did. To me, he didn't have all the things that Eddie had off the field -- intangibles -- but he was easy to coach on the field. You'd tell him what you wanted and he'd go after it."

Bear Report Top Stories